Earlier this year, the EU approved the sale of the first total artificial heart (TAH) for patients that desperately require a working heart while they wait for a live donor.
Now, a team from Duke University has performed the first transplant of this artificial heart in the US, potentially saving the life of a 39-year-old man with sudden heart failure. The heart should allow Matthew Moore to stabilize and even return home, if all goes well, while he waits for a full transplant.
Since the operation, Matthew is stable and under monitoring.
“We are encouraged that our patient is doing so well after the procedure Monday,” said Dr Carmelo Milano, a transplant surgeon and the principal investigator of the artificial heart at Duke University, in a statement.
“As we evaluate this device, we are both excited and hopeful that patients who otherwise have few to no options could have a lifeline.”
The TAH (called Aeson) is developed by CARMAT, a French company that aims to help the ongoing efforts to treat heart failure – heart disease is currently the world’s leading cause of death. Incorporating living tissue derived from bovine (cow) cells into a synthetic organ, the Aeson involves the use of four biological valves that directly mimic a typical human heart. The user must carry an external power source that provides the heart with up to four hours' worth of power, during which time they are afforded far more independence than any previous pre-transplant options.
Aeson is now on sale in the EU, but progress has been slower in the US. Following approval by the FDA last year, CARMAT began a trial to involve 10 patients eligible for heart transplants to receive the Aeson, but it is unclear whether the trial is ongoing.
When Matthew Moore presented to Duke after a serious and unexpected diagnosis of sudden heart failure, the team of surgeons only expected to perform a heart bypass surgery, in which a blood vessel is implanted to bypass a narrowed section of the coronary artery to relieve chest pain and pressure on the heart. However, Moore quickly began deteriorating and required a more urgent – and more serious – operation. Due to the condition decline, Moore was no longer fit for a heart transplant, which carries significant risk and requires a stable patient.
The only remaining option was an artificial device to maintain blood flow around Moore’s body, making this the perfect opportunity to utilize the new artificial heart.
Matthew Moore is now doing well and remains in hospital. Rachel Moore, Matthew Moore’s wife, hopes that soon Matthew can return home and continue to care for foster children, something they are both passionate about, as well as maybe even a trip to Disneyworld.
“As a nurse, I understand how important it is to bring these advancements forward,” Rachel Moore said in a statement.
“Both Matthew and I are so grateful that we’ve been provided an opportunity to participate in something that has the potential to have an impact on so many lives. We are just taking it day-by-day and hope everything continues to progress well.”